FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (CBSNewYork) — The Patriots are firing back following an explosive ESPN report that suggested simmering tensions between owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady could lead to a split after this season.
“For the past 18 years, the three of us have enjoyed a very good and productive working relationship,” Kraft, Belichick and Brady said in a joint statement Friday. “In recent days, there have been multiple media reports that have speculated theories that are unsubstantiated, highly exaggerated or flat out inaccurate. The three of us share a common goal. We look forward to the enormous challenge of competing in the postseason and the opportunity to work together in the future, just as we have for the past 18 years. It is unfortunate that there is even a need for us to respond to these fallacies. As our actions have shown, we stand united.”
The ESPN article by Seth Wickersham says there has been a rift in the Patriots’ locker room over Brady’s use of trainer Alex Guerrero. Guerrero and Brady have formulated “The TB12 Method,” a fitness and diet guide that Brady believes has been instrumental in helping him play at a high level into his 40s.
After Guerrero was given access to the Patriots’ locker room, many players didn’t know whether to seek advice and treatment from Guerrero or the team’s staff, and that Guerrero would sometimes undermine team doctors, the report said. Belichick has since restricted Guerrero’s access to the team, although he has not barred him from treating Brady and other members of the Patriots.
Meanwhile, Brady has reportedly grown frustrated by Belichick’s increasingly harsh criticism of his play, and the coach’s constant negativity, the report said. He also didn’t like the Patriots’ grooming of 2014 second-round pick Jimmy Garoppolo, who has since been traded to San Francisco.
Kraft and Belichick have since had a falling out over that trade, the report said, because the owner ordered the head coach to deal Garoppolo because he was not in New England’s long-term plans. Belichick reluctantly did so, but he has privately fumed over the move because the five-time Super Bowl-winning coach believes he has earned the right to make such team personnel decisions, ESPN reported.
Despite all the supposed turmoil, the Patriots went 13-3 this season and earned home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Brady, meanwhile, has produced MVP-type numbers yet again, leading the league in passing yards (4,577), while tossing 32 touchdowns and just eight interceptions.
The idea that Belichick could be leaving the Patriots instantly led to speculation in New York of him filling the Giants’ head coaching vacancy. He was a Giants assistant coach from 1979-90 under head coaches Ray Perkins and Bill Parcells.
“What seemed like a pipedream as recently as earlier this week now has a shred of possibility to it,” Newsday’s Tom Rock wrote Friday.
“If The Hoodie is available (that’s a big if) … well, go get him,” New York Daily News columnist Gary Myers wrote. “He’s the best coach in NFL history.”